There has been an increase in the number of Australian occupational therapy education programmes and student enrolment numbers in existing programmes, whereas there is a perceived current and predicted future workforce shortage of qualified university academics. The aim of the study was to map the current Australian occupational therapy academic workforce and investigate the group's job satisfaction.
The research was a cross-sectional online survey of Australian occupational therapy academics employed part-time or full-time in fixed or ongoing positions. The survey included the Job Satisfaction Survey. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics, Spearman rho correlations, and linear and multi-linear regressions.
Responses were received from 120 participants who met inclusion criteria, with 89% of the sample being women, 83% employed in ongoing positions and 61% employed full-time. Over half had a PhD or professional doctorate and similarly, over half were employed in lecturer or level B positions. One quarter of respondents were in teaching-only positions and 58% were in combined teaching and research positions. Nearly half were over 46 years of age. Respondents reported that they were satisfied with supervision, the nature of the work, and co-workers; however, were dissatisfied with operating conditions and were ambivalent about pay, contingent rewards, opportunities for promotion, communication, and fringe benefits. Most participants were motivated by teaching students but reported unrealistic workload requirements as their greatest challenge.
The Australian occupational therapy academic workforce is relatively stable with most in ongoing positions; however, there are fewer in senior positions. The majority of respondents were in lecturer or level B positions, with lowest levels of satisfaction, particularly those who had been at this level longer. Workload expectations and lack of opportunities for promotion contributed to marked job dissatisfaction. Workforce planning, including recruitment and retention strategies, is needed to address predicted increased demands.